Afghan war claims life of 214th British serviceman

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Another British soldier died of gunshot wounds in Helmand province yesterday – the fifth to be killed in the district of Babaji since the end of an operation to clear it of Taliban fighters.

The soldier from the 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, who was serving with The Light Dragoons battlegroup, was shot while on foot patrol on Sunday night.

He was the 214th British soldier to die in Afghanistan since 2001 and the 77th to be killed this year. Lieutenant-Colonel Nick Richardson, a spokesman for Task Force Helmand, said: "This brave British soldier has paid the ultimate sacrifice and his memory will live with us forever. We all mourn his loss and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this very sad time."

Babaji was at the centre of Operation Panther's Claw, an offensive intended to make the area safe before last month's presidential elections. The drive lasted five weeks and involved 3,000 troops. Ten British soldiers were killed, four in Babaji.

The funeral of Sergeant Paul McAleese, 29, of the 2nd Battalion, The Rifles, took place with full military honours in his home city of Hereford yesterday. Sgt McAleese was killed in Sangin province last month as he went to help a comrade.